Do Not Swat. Do Not Move Too Fast. Do Not Be Afraid. Do Not Panic.
Those are all things I was thinking in the picture below.
I found myself curiously surrounded by 50,000 busy honeybees and in that situation it's really hard to avoid bee to skin contact.
Turned on to the story of a mysterious bee sickness by the assignment desk looking for another package on a slow news day, I called a local proffessional beekeeper who was listed in the beekeeper yellow pages.
Jeff Lee of Lee's Bees was more than willing to oblige, but he couldn't do it until 1:30 in the afternoon. With a 50 minute drive there and the same back I was going to be pushing it to make my 5-30 pm time slot.
But the time slot dilema was out of my mind the minute I saw the bees. I was almost drawn to them. I had to regain focus. I had only 45 minutes to get the story shot and drive back to High Point and still have just enough time to get the story on the air.
Did I mention that I was in a swarm of 50,000 bees? But that was only a small fraction of Lee's Bees. He has 1200 hives (60 million bees)that he takes all over the nation to pollenate crops for farmers. He recently brought back 480 of his hives from California where they spent the early spring working on the almond farms. (the insurance companies for almonds farmers require 1 hive for every 2 acres.)
Right now a bunch of his bees are in Eastern North Carolina navigating the Blueberry patches.
But over the winter 18-millions of his bees died. Some of them died for now apparant reason. This is a trend across the country and that was the basis of the story.
Without honeybees 1/3 of our food supply couldn't be grown.
So I finished shooting the story, made it back to home base in time to write and edit the piece only to get word that they floated me to the next day.
That was good though. I spent a few extra minutes tweaking it out a little more than it would have otherwise.
Here it is.